Cricket: Remembering India’s 2002 NatWest Trophy Triumph

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International cricket is back on the docket. As England readies for its second test against the West Indies on Thursday in Manchester, a less happy anniversary in England history came about on Monday. As fate would have it, the moment wasn’t going to pass without a none-too-subtle reminder from those who helped India conquer the English on that fateful day, July 13, 2002.

Does time heal all wounds? Perhaps it does. However, the passage of time never causes the sweet nectar of victory to sour to the taste. In case he was wondering, India’s Yuvraj Singh desired to assure former England captain Nasser Hussain that this is indeed the case.

Like a low-bowled cricket ball, the former India batsman dug deep and slammed the memory right out there into open space for all to see. But most especially, for Hussain to see.

Singh took to social media to remind Hussain of what happened that day . . . you know, just in case it had slipped from his memory.

“#Throwback to Natwest 2002 Final,” Singh posted on Twitter. “Jaan laga di thi sab ne mil ke! We were young and we wanted to win. It was a wonderful team effort that helped us beat England and clinch the trophy in this nail-biting game.”

He spiced up the post by adding several photos of India’s celebration following the victory.

Singh then tagged Hussain, adding “just in case you forgot.”

Hussain Fires Back

As it turned out, he had not.

Some lovely photos mate,” Hussain responded on Twitter. “Thanks for sharing.”

Playing at Lord’s that day, Hussain took on a starring role in assembling what looked to be an insurmountable advantage. England posted a commanding total of 325/5 in 50 overs.

Marcus Trescothick went for 109 and then skipper Hussain followed with 115, hammering out respective centuries, wearing out the Indian bowlers as they smacked balls to every corner of the stadium, throwing the gauntlet down at the feet of India’s batsmen in the process.

India’s captain Sourav Ganguly and Virender Sehwag countered by opening up with 116 runs to put India in position to make a run at the English. However, almost as quickly as their performance gave India cause for hope, the wheels of the rally were suddenly derailed.

Ganguly was lost. Then Sehwag was also dismissed. Dinesh Mongia, Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar were all dispatched in short order. The visitors from India lost wickets in rapid fashion as they stumbled to 146-5.

If live betting were in existence in those days, no one would’ve been logging on to their online sportsbook looking to lay a wager down on the odds of India rallying.

India’s fate was left in the hands of a pair of young, less experienced batsmen – Singh and Mohammad Kaif. Yet just when it looked as though the match was England’s to lose, England proceeded to lose it.

This unheralded tandem assembled an astonishing 121-run performance off 106 deliveries that put India on course for its epic comeback.

Kaif Of Good Hope

England bowler Paul Collingwood dismissed Yuvraj Singh after just 69 runs. At that point, the taste of victory was being succulently savored by the English.

Kaif was not about to allow that to happen, though. He struck up a 47-run partnership with Harbjahan Singh to get India moving again toward the required target. Harbjahan was dismissed by Andrew Flintoff, then Anil Kumble also was dispatched without inflicting damage.

Kaif remained unflinching, though. He won the match for India with two wickets and three balls to spare. He finished with 87 runs off of 75 balls, earning man of the match honors for his heroics.

He knew it was a career-defining moment. In fact, Kaif assessed that he’d reached the pinnacle of cricket achievement, and that he’d do no better while cradling a bat in his hands.

“July 13 will always be close to my heart,” Kaif told Sportstar. “It changed my life. I wanted to make that day memorable, so I announced my retirement on July 13, 2018. It will always remain a special day for me.

“Ahead of the final, there were a lot of discussions on how to tame the home team. But in the end, all that meant very little as England posted a mammoth 325.

“Those were the days when anything above 300 looked like an uphill task. So, as England piled on the runs, the Indian camp looked dejected and we knew that we failed to get the monkey off our back.

“After all, who would have thought that we could script a turnaround?”

Shirtless Celebration

Sourav Ganguly doffed his jersey following India’s win over England. Photo by: Hash Milhan (flickr).

As much as the victory is remembered for the heroics of Kaif’s batting, India’s cricket fans see as the moment that defined the day was a visual from amidst India’s players who were seated on the Lord’s balcony. Some have referred to it as ranking among the most iconic scenes ever witnessed in the staid, conservative world of the cricket pitch.

While Kaif’s bat was producing the winning runs, triumphant Indian players exulted in celebration. Acting instinctively, Sourav Ganguly removed his pale blue jersey. Shirtless, and grinning from ear to ear, he waved it excitedly in the air over his head.

Kaif also took to Twitter on the anniversary of the win to share in the memory of India’s great victory.

“July 13, 2002: The day we climbed Mt Everest at Lord’s . . . Dada shirtless, Yuvi nerveless, Zak’s support priceless, Me fearless . . . memories endless,” Kaif tweeted.

 

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